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Read as Lee O’Connor, one of LUSH’s key change-makers, delves into how he creates change as a Sustainability Coordinator.
"At the heart of our favorite cosmetics retailer, LUSH is a company that commits to making a positive impact in the areas of animal welfare, human rights and environmental conservation. Finding the balance between profit and social responsibility, LUSH leads and inspires with positive-impact projects and a commitment to ethical campaigning and advocacy – all while delivering wholesome and fresh pampering-goodies!"
What was your journey like to become a Sustainability Coordinator for LUSH?
I started at LUSH about ten years ago. When I originally started, I worked in distribution as a shipper and receiver, and it was through that when I started to learn the business. I learned about the system, got involved in the inventory side of things, moved on to our support team in finance and operations – and from there moved into part time sustainability. I had always been involved in our Green Team and the various projects that are done through them, and through being involved in all of that experience, I eventually managed to create my own job within LUSH in sustainability. It has been about three years now that I’ve been on the team as a Sustainability Coordinator.
What are some of your daily tasks as a sustainability coordinator?
I look after a lot of our waste metrics, like gathering how much is going into our landfill bins and organics bins, etc., as well as working on our waste-diversion rates. I also manage the Green Team – which is where different members from the manufacturing distribution work on different projects within the business to try and make our business more sustainable. In the Green Team, they look after their own projects in their own departments; an example project that is happening right now is weighing product waste that’s generated during the manufacturing process, and trying to reduce that down. Also: meetings and meetings and lots of meetings. There is a lot of coordination and collaboration that happens at LUSH, so getting on the same page for certain projects that everyone is collaborating on is a big task. We really try to see the whole picture as much as we can!
So far, what have been your highlights in working at a company that has such a social and sustainability focus?
That’s why I’m here, really. I honestly wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have that still. Just knowing that the company is there – it’s knowing that the company cares about more than just profit. I think it’s important that you can show to other businesses that you can be socially conscious and still turn a profit, and have it make business-sense to do such socially-conscious things. I’ve always looked for a company that fits my ethics as close as possible, and I’m really glad I found that here; it makes it really easy to come to work everyday.
Are there any social enterprises or companies that you get inspiration from to do your own job?
There are lots… I think there’s also lots of organizations out there who maybe wouldn’t be considered in the social realm but who are doing a lot of good work as well. You can kind of pull bits and pieces from lots of different organizations to see what they’re doing. For example, locally, Mountain Equipment Co., and other businesses like that are a really big inspiration for me, especially when looking at things like waste, which is my main area of focus.
What is the biggest tip you would give to someone who wants to work for a place that is socially conscious or who wants to start their own enterprise?
I would just say get your foot in the door, any way you can. You might not get into the position that you ideally see yourself doing, but if you have that passion and you’re working for an organization that really excites you and inspires you, you will probably eventually get there. Just get your foot in the door to be in that kind of atmosphere, and test it out and see if it’s right for you or not.
Our whole thing at SEC is creating change-makers by uniting disciplines and bringing everyone together; how are you personally a change-maker?
It really goes back to inspiring others. For me, I have a pretty awesome platform here to try and make other change-makers and that’s what I really try to do – to try and get that mentality into other people by giving them the education they need. A lot of people just don’t have education surrounding things like sustainable behaviours – I find that you just simply have to give them that education so they can take the right steps towards it. So I guess that’s what I do – just try my best to inspire others.
Some other SEC adventures!
Innovation Jam is a CASUAL case competition-like setting where students are able to work very closely with LOCAL Social Enterprises!
This annual workshop allows groups of 4-6 UBC students to be paired with a social entrepreneur and tasked with solving real-life social enterprise issues.
YOU play the role of a consultant for these businesses.
Contact Social Enterprise Club
Get in touch with Social Enterprise Club to learn more about our work and how you can get involved.
Room 434, 2053 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2